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Review of Rita Mae Brown’s Cat of the Century

Brown takes some of the action to central Missouri where William Woods University is celebrating a fund-raiser in honor of Aunt Tally’s 100th birthday. Both Aunt Tally and her life-long friend, Inez, are graduates, along with several other Virginians. Harry Haristeen, the 40 year old Piedmont farmer from Crozet, VA, is not a graduate of William Woods, but she is determined to help Aunt Tally and Inez celebrate.

While the banquet for Aunt Tally is going on the group is worried at the disappearance of Mariah, one of the Alumnae board members who is from Kansas City. A few days after the event another board member is murdered and emails from Mariah claim responsibility. Did Mariah really do this? Is she after other members of the Board? Or is this a frame job, and is Mariah also dead? The usual cast of characters in this “Mrs. Murphy Mystery” are supplemented by a number of others, some of whom are real people from William Woods University, a school well known in horse riding circles.

As usual, Harry’s animals, supplemented by Tally and Inez’s dogs, help to solve the mystery. One not only has to suspend judgment about the capability of animals to be such astute sleuths, but also that centenarian, Aunt Tally, and 98 year old Inez can be so spry as to actually take down their attacker. I know a number of people who have reached that age, and they are rarely as spry as these two senior citizens.

I also have to admit, I wish that Rita Mae Brown would find something other than Libertarian politics to pontificate on in her books. That is getting quite old. I am sure there are readers who are devoted to her books specifically because she expresses the “best government is the least government” point of view.

In the end I guess I keep reading Rita Mae Brown’s mysteries quite religiously because she writes about a world that is so very different from my own. It is good to be reminded of the differences that make up our society and differences from one part of the country to another. Rural Piedmont Virginia is a world away from Iowa City, IA where I live–but quite close in character and sentiment to rural Northeast Iowa where I have many relatives in farming.

Liz Nichols

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